This past weekend, most of us gathered at the Glickman Library in Portland, along with perhaps a hundred other people, for the Maine Crime Wave, a mystery conference dedicated to teaching writing skills, building our crime writing community and having fun.
The lovely and generous Lisa Gardner received the well-deserved Crime Master Award. Lisa and her agent, Meg Ruley, talked about the process of a book from manuscript to publication, and the relationship between the author and the agent.
There were workshops on craft, and panels of authors offering diverse opinions on whether plot or character is more important–and an audience that suggested setting, particularly a Maine setting, is also a draw for readers. A panel on the defining elements of different corners of the genre–featuring writers of traditional mysteries, police procedurals, and thriller/suspense.
One panel featured the three nominees for the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction: Lea Wait, Barbara Ross, and Bruce Coffin–all three Maine crime writers who blog here regularly.
Neil Nyren, long time publisher, gave a generous and humorous overview of the publishing industry.
The day ended with Two Minutes in the Slammer–where authors read from their works for two minutes. Two minutes, it turns out, can be enough to hook a reader or lose one, and it is a great opportunity for the audience to be involved in the Wave and share what they are working on.
Most hilarious was the panel called “Let’s Write a Crime Novel,” where audience members submit character names, motives, weapons, occupations and settings, which are placed in bags. By drawing from the five bags, a panel of writers from different corners of the mystery genre will compose a mystery on the fly. Between the panelist and the engaged audience, a very amusing story involving a golf course, a pig farm, amnesia, an intrepid girl reporter, a cop, and an antique sword hidden in the pigpen evolved.
Do you love mysteries? Long to meet your favorite authors? Ever wonder how mysteries are written? You should attend next year, and join the fun!